Revenge Wears Prada

Revenge Wears Prada
by Lauren Weisberger
Release date: June 4, ’13
From Goodreads:

The sequel you’ve been waiting for: the follow-up to the sensational #1 bestseller The Devil Wears Prada.
Almost a decade has passed since Andy Sachs quit the job “a million girls would die for” working for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine—a dream that turned out to be a nightmare. Andy and Emily, her former nemesis and co-assistant, have since joined forces to start a highend bridal magazine. The Plunge has quickly become required reading for the young and stylish. Now they get to call all the shots: Andy writes and travels to her heart’s content; Emily plans parties and secures advertising like a seasoned pro. Even better, Andy has met the love of her life. Max Harrison, scion of a storied media family, is confident, successful, and drop-dead gorgeous. Their wedding will be splashed across all the society pages as their friends and family gather to toast the glowing couple. Andy Sachs is on top of the world. But karma’s a bitch. The morning of her wedding, Andy can’t shake the past. And when she discovers a secret letter with crushing implications, her wedding-day jitters turn to cold dread. Andy realizes that nothing—not her husband, nor her beloved career—is as it seems. She never suspected that her efforts to build a bright new life would lead her back to the darkness she barely escaped ten years ago—and directly into the path of the devil herself.

A word about the cover: Unlike the hardcover, the paperback keeps with the shoe theme of all of Weisberger’s books. If not for the trident heel or the fact that this a Devil Wears Prada sequel, I’d probably glance over.

My thoughts:

Okay, so let me be clear: I haven’t read the Devil Wears Prada. I’ve read Weisberger’s other books, but not Devil. I’ve watched the film uncountable times but yes, I realise that there were things in the film that were different from the book, so I’m not going to draw comparisons between Revenge and Devil.

Let’s treat Revenge as a standalone. where I know the back stories of the characters. Happens, right?

By itself, I thought Revenge was entertaining. I’m not exactly a fan of Weisberger’s but Revenge had my attention throughout. Oh, of course, it starts off with Andy being crazy, making a mountain out of a molehill, that really makes no sense at all, but maybe, just maybe, that could have been a foreshadowing of things to come.

So it’s been 10 years since Andy left the ‘Runway’ and instead of writing for The New Yorker or something, she runs a super-successful luxury wedding magazine, along with – surprise!surprise! – Emily, Miranda Priestly’s former first assistant and you know, just the girl who couldn’t stand Andy earlier. Yes, 10 years do change a lot of things. Which also means that there’s a new guy (husband, actually), Max, who is as close to perfect as men can be. Except, of course, for the things Andy find right before her wedding that send her taking a ride across loonville through the first half of the book. I’m thinking Andy may just be a little too paranoid than necessary and hence the pointless jumping-to-conclusions take up the early part of the book. I mean, she had a pretty good domestic and professional life otherwise.

Until, of course, Miranda comes into the picture. Well, she isn’t physically present much of the time that she was in Devil, but she’s here alright. In Andy’s nightmares and hey, the magazine world. There are actually more moments of perfect domesticity than Miranda-tornadoes. It was pacey. At least till the last 30% of the book when almost everything takes a whole hey-i-didn’t-think-that-would-happen turn.

So all of Goodreads has been exploding with how Weisberger completely dashes the ‘American Dream’ in this book. I’m not sure that’s a valid criticism. So, yes, the end picture isn’t pretty, but hey, life isn’t always rosy, is it? There’s hope and that’s important. Revenge, too, has hope. If you plan on going into this book with a critical eye, you won’t be doing yourself any favours. Read it like you would treat a summer fling. It’s fun. Revenges always are.

Have you read either Devil or Revenge?

 

Lola and the Boy Next Door

(Yes, the whole world’s probably read it by now, but GAHH I’m going to talk about it anyway, because, hey, Stephanie Perkins. Enough said.)

Lola and the Boy Next Door
by Stephanie Perkins
Release date: September 28th, ’11
From Goodreads:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion…she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit–more sparkly, more fun, more wild–the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.
When Cricket–a gifted inventor–steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

A word about the cover: I love the wig. And the cover in general coveys the same cheeriness that Anna‘s cover does, although the latter had a mysteriousness about it since you couldn’t see the guy’s face on it and hey, we had a good time imagining Etienne, didn’t we? But Lola has a new cover, too (like all the books in this series) – more city-centric – and I think it’s gorgeous. Also, mature.

My thoughts:

This book is a big glob of happiness. I mean, there are a lot of sad and not-so-kind and heartbreaking stuff, too, but overall, it’s such a happy book it makes you feel hopeful about things, irrespective of how you’re feeling.

It’s been a few hours since I finished reading this book and I still can’t stop grinning about it. Stephanie Perkins knows, you know. She REALLY knows how to write a good, believable romance. She knows how to build up a believable friendship-that-is-more-than-just-friendship and turn it on its head so that even though you kind of know that in spite of everything this will end up with a happy ending, you can’t discard the book with a smirk because the characters are sitting there with your heart and you’re squealing and gahh-ing over whatever’s happening and you know you need this.

Yes, that’s what a Stephanie Perkins book feels like. And that’s what Lola and the Boy Next Door feels like, too.

I’ve heard a lot of people didn’t really like Lola’s dangling-two-boys act but c’mon, she’s only human and nobody’s perfect. Oh, well, Cricket is. Like reallyreallyreally perfect. Dude, where do guys like him live? (Okay, okay, I know San Francisco and all that, but really) Remember Etienne from Anna ? Yeah, that guy is puurrrfect, but Cricket is sometimes (most times, actually) waaaay too good to be true.

Other things I liked about Lola:
– Lola’s dads! I haven’t read a better, matter-of-fact, un-caricatured representation of a gay couple with a daughter. And Andy and Nathan stand out so well against each other.
– Norah. (I’m not saying who she is if you haven’t read the book – although chances are that you have, still – but I thought she was the most interesting character in the book)
– An obsessive-compulsive costume designer. An Olympic-bound figure skater. An inventor. Aahh, unique hobbies make for such unique characters.
– Also, the thing about Alexander Graham Bell. I liked that bit of inclusion.
– I loved the little unconventional bits the book had. Like Lola’s 5-years-older boyfriend. The biological/adopted family thingy. Heck, the costumes! Less high school, more home scenes (hey, the boy’s just next door – who would even *want* school?) – infact, more COLLEGE (here’s looking at you Berkeley) than high school.
– But my favourite part? ANNA AND ST. CLAIR MAKE APPEARANCES THROUGHOUT THE BOOK.

Okay, so Anna is still one of my favouritebooksEVER. It’s one of the most glorious books written in YA fiction and bringing Lola up for a comparison would just not be fair because Anna is, you know, Anna. Boarding school. Paris. St Clair. Perfection.

But Lola IS a good read. More than good, it’s a happy read and we can all do with a heavy dose of happiness, can’t we? This book had been on my to-read list for a very long time but I’m overjoyed I finally could get around to reading it because the reading experience has been worth more than I had expected. I’m convinced now. Stephanie Perkins has the gift of writing happy. You know that when you’re feeling the blues, all you need is to pick up a Perkins book. Works like magic.

Do you like Anna or Lola better?

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

(Hardcover/Australian Paperback)

Imaginary Girls
by Nova Ren Suma
(Author blog)
Released: June 14th, ’11
From Goodreads:

Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby’s friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.
But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.
With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.

A word about the cover: That hardcover version is the Most. Brilliant. Cover. Ever. Period.
And that paperback below? Hauntingly creepy. But the hardcover wins, hands down.

My Thoughts:

This is quite possibly the most gorgeous book I’ve owned. I doubt I can be coherent at all while talking about this because, honestly, it blew my mind. Wow. Just WOW.

(Paperback)

If you ask me right now which author I so wish I could write like, I’d say Nova Ren Suma in a heartbeat. Not only is the writing oh-so-breathtaking, she blends it in with a story that will sometimes make your heart ache, sometimes put your heart in your mouth and hang on to you even months after you’ve read it (I speak from experience. Yes, it’s been months that I’ve read it. I just didn’t know how to talk about it. Still don’t, but you get what I mean).

This is a story about sisters and obsession, about dead girls and lost towns, sibling love and sacrifice, destruction and resurrection. This is a story about magic. Magic that will make your toes curl yet keep you captivated. This is magic realism at it’s best. The best I’ve read in years.

At it’s heart, Imaginary Girls is a mystery. There’s mystery in every page, in every character, in every action undertaken by a character. Ruby, Chloe’s older sister, is perhaps the biggest mystery, which also makes her the most enticing character of all. Ruby is complex. So complex that sometimes sometimes it’s scary. But she’ll hold you entranced, like she holds Chloe and the rest of the town. Yet in spite of the power she wields, there will never be a time when you even remotely associate her with being bad. That’s the kind of magic Suma crafts with Imaginary Girls. Her characters will make you wonder at their strangeness, yet you get where they are coming from. You might drown in the terror of the situation, yet you’ll have your heartbroken in pages.

It isn’t just the characters. The setting is stunning. I kid you not when I say it’s perhaps the most vividly atmospheric novel I’ve read since Emily Bronte‘s Wuthering Heights. The reservoir which holds a size-able amount of the mystery of Imaginary Girls takes on a life of it’s own. It’s so richly evocative, sometimes I felt myself drowning in it or listening to it breathe in the night, like Chloe did.

Imaginary Girls is the kind of book that is built on paradoxes. Of reality distorted to suit personal interests. The kind of book that manages to be both startlingly beautiful and hair-raisingly disturbing. The kind that makes you wonder what the author feeds on to have come out with such an extraordinary piece of work. The kind that makes you want to give out copies of it to every person you come across just so they can have a piece of its magic too. The kind that makes you pull out your pen or laptop, if only to make you aspire to create something as marvellous.

Do I recommend this? YES, YES AND A THOUSAND TIMES OVER. And then some more.

And just so I can make you a li’l jealous,

OWNED!
Author signed! See? 😀
(I won this at a giveaway)

Glimpse a little of the magic through the trailer:

How often do you read magic realism?

Tempest

Tempest
by Julie Cross
Released: 17th Jan, ’12.

From Goodreads:

The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.
That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.
Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.
But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.
Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

A word about the cover: I don’t know why but I really like the floaty-ness of it. (Is that weird?) Also, the photo is a little unusual for what has recently flooded the YA market (read: Sad Girls In Pretty Dresses). It makes me want to give it a second look.

My Thoughts:

The whole time-traveling shizz appeals to me a lot. I think that’s the coolest possible super-power to have. I mean, what can you not do if you can travel through time? And lets face it: the premise of Tempest is actually very relatable. How many times have we thought if only I could turn back time when we lost a loved one? Me? Tons.

Tempest was a book I wanted to read, ever since I started following Julie’s blog, right after she got her book deal, even before the book became the talking point across blogosphere.

It was..well, inventive. I was uber curious about what was happening and what was going to happen and if Jackson would really be able to save Holly and all those things that could make this book work. Unfortunately, it was also one of those books that you go through a page-flipping-frenzy mode for then promptly forget about (I didn’t forget because I had to do this review, but you get the hint).

My problem mostly was with the characters – a shallow bunch of jerks with some wrong notions about certain things. Case in point: Holly’s roommate is called a feminist – when she is very clearly a misandrist – and is dismissed as being a bitch along the same lines. And what does that imply? That a feminist is very easily a misandrist or that feminists are bitches? Because that’s EXACTLY how it comes across.
Also, Jackson’s reaction on getting to know that Holly is a virgin? He’s worried about her and then goes –

The idea that she might not enjoy this was turning me in the other direction. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been with a virgin, even just messing around. Maybe never.

I mean, DUDE, seriously? Jackson’s seventeen. And he has slept with so many people he doesn’t even remember the last virgin he slept with? (At the same time we get to hear Holly call him ‘deep’. I mean, SERIOUSLY?) I don’t get moralising over books or anything but what really annoys me is Jackson’s attitude here. So is he implying that being a virgin means you’re all uptight and that it probably puts him off? Or is it that because somebody isn’t a virgin it’s okay to mess around with them?
And at the same time he’s actually worried about Holly, huh? Contradictions, contradictions. Conclusively, Jackson ends up being typecast as the seemingly nice guy who is really a jerk underneath. Sadly, no character development there.
I call these characters jerks because there’s no redemption, nowhere in the book do they regret such thoughts or realise what absolute jackasses they really are. All of it is as easily dismissed as it is brought on. Like this very dignified bit:

“I just met this chick last night at my friend’s party. She’s mega hot and a total airhead.” “Exactly your type right?” “Yeah, but only if the flakiness is genuine. Not that pretend-I’m-stupid shit. You know it’s going to bite you in the ass later. Besides, I love messing with people who just don’t get it.” 

Waaay. To. Go.

I had issues with Tempest throughout my reading experience of it. Maybe if I leave my own personal beliefs aside, maybe it could work. I mean, I loved the bits Jackson had with his sister Courtney. I think I was mostly in that page-flipping-frenzy mode just so I could get to the parts with/about her. But then, such personal beliefs can’t really be pushed aside. I *am* a feminist and I cannot tolerate sexism and coming from a country where woman’s position in society is a matter of argument every-freaking-day, reading about women being dismissed as easily as toilet paper makes me angry.

Yes, there are good things about the book. Like I said, Courtney. And it moves at breakneck speed inspite of the whole ‘time-line’ thing being highly confusing more often than not. And the last quarter of the book makes you feel a little bad for the main characters sometimes. It’s not a bad book.

But, I don’t know. With all those sexist ideas being dismissed as casual fun, it’s not exactly making it to my list of good books.

Reading is subjective, right?
I know Tempest has/will have it’s fair share of fans (heck, a movie’s been optioned, too!). It’s just that I’m not one of them.

Have you read Tempest? What’s your favourite read on time travel?

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

Drowning Instinct
by Ilsa J Bick
Released: 1st Feb, ’12.
From Goodreads:

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.) 
Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire. 
There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.) 
Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain…magnetism. 
And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.) 
Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

A word about the cover: For some reason, one glance at the cover made me think this was a paranormal. Of course, I hadn’t read the book description or anything then. And, well…I passed it up, because I wasn’t really in the mood for a paranormal. After reading the description, though, my reaction went along the lines of Holy shit! How could I pass up THIS book? Now that I look at it, I think the cover captures the mood of the book rather well. I mean, to me, it kinda looks like the girl has just washed her face after a run and that’s…significant. You know what I mean? No? Well, find out.

My Thoughts:


Drowning Instinct is one of those books that can’t exactly be summed up in a review. But there are certain things I can tell you. Like,

  • While the book description tells you a few things, it doesn’t prepare you with expectations. At least for me, it didn’t. Which means, that the experience that Drowning Instinct packs within those pages, may, in plain-speak, blow your mind.
  • There’s self harm and all kinds of abuse and other twisted things that will take you to dark places and make you squirm and keep you awake at night. And keep you thinking. Thinking is always a good thing, right?
  • Surprises. There are lots of them. Sometimes these are small bumpy ones, sometimes they are roller-coaster-plunge worthy-ish. Either way, it’s a ride.
  • If you have expectations from Jenna Lord, dump them with the garbage. Jenna Lord is not a very reliable narrator. But you won’t be able to forget her.
  • Even before the threads of the relationship – yes, that forbidden relationship – manifest, you will be saying, oh no no no no no, don’t even go there! back off! But then, long past those early scenes, somewhere in the middle of the story you will probably wonder if you said that ‘back off’ out of concern or jealousy.
  • Oftentimes, especially in the latter half of the book, you will think how very twisted Mitch Anderson is and will want to scream What is up with that man?! Sooner or later, that might alternate with Why can’t I have that man?! Oh, yes, Mitch Anderson in inexplicably swoon-worthy.
  • While the rest of the book will probably keep you in page-flipping-frenzy mode, the last quarter will make you hyperventilate alongside. But be careful. If things get too serious, remember you can’t really blame your medical condition on a book.
  • Soon you might stop breathing.
  • Then, you’ll probably experience an overwhelming outpouring of emotions.
  • Later, you will be wondering who was to blame. If anyone was to blame. What you condoned and what you disapproved. If you even have the right to. What was right and what went wrong. If you are even in a position to judge. If you can even point a finger at anybody. The dilemma won’t really leave you with an answer.

Then again, this story is not only about Jenna and Mr. Anderson. There are several more players, each with their own desperate obsessions, twisted pasts and existence of half-truths.
Primarily though, Drowning Instinct is a story that weaves through the lives of broken people looking for something to grasp on to, before they drown in the desolation of their own existence. It is also incredibly brilliant.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it somersaulted straight up my favourites list.

What upcoming release do you want to drown in?

May B.

May B.
by Caroline Starr Rose
Released: January, 2012.
From Goodreads:

May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose’s fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

My Thoughts:
 
Verse is the most beautiful form of writing EVER. Seriously. Prose can be made beautiful but anything that verse touches is instantly beautified.  It’s easy to go wrong with verse, but if you get it right, the result is nothing short of dazzling.
 
Caroline Starr Rose’s May B. is one such beautiful novel. The verse is stylistic, yet simplistic and makes for a read that is oh-so-compelling, it begs to be completed quickly. And that’s easy, because it is fast paced and May’s voice is very engaging.
 
May’s resilience is arguably the best thing about this novel. She is so young and it hurts to read about her struggles. Her struggle with her reading disability that brings out her insecurities before sniggering classmates and a very discouraging teacher. Her struggles with the downsides of being a girl in the 19th century, witnessing her brother get the little privileges she is denied. Struggles with being separated from her family, then being abandoned in the midst of nowhere and having to face nature’s fury by herself. Her struggle for survival. 
 
Most of the time I just wanted to give her a hug. And it broke my heart that there wasn’t anyone to give her that. Seriously, this girl needed it. But the thing about May B. is that in spite of being severed off from known civilisation and having to do without any human companionship, she has a quiet strength, a fighting spirit that manifests itself against all odds. It’s empowering and it unfurls itself not dramatically, but gradually.
 
I liked how the author juxtaposes May’s struggle with dyslexia with the challenges imposed by the approaching winter. The setting, infact, is brilliant. I could literally hear the blizzard. And it terrified me. That says a lot about the author’s skill, doesn’t it?
 
Caroline Starr Rose’s May B. could be called an adventure tale featuring a very brave and unusual heroine, that makes for a heartwarming and enduring read. Whether verse is your thing or not, I recommend this.
 
How often do you pick up a verse novel?

Graphic Novel Spotlight: Princess Reborn – Chapter 1

Princess Reborn: Chapter 1 (Graphic Novel)
by Lee Tidball

 

Lari’s puzzled. What’s Mom’s secret? And could it have anything to do with Lari’s, secret? Lari’s family will never be the same again when an unspeakable evil is unleashed on the world. a dark nemesis from mom’s phantom past, bent on ruling and revenge. The world will stand helpless against it. 
The time for heroes has come again. One must be born, though she has no idea who she is. And the other must, against all odds, be REBORN.

 



This is the first graphic novel I’m featuring on my blog.


I don’t read as much of them as I’d like to. Although Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel version of Coraline will always be a favourite.

Princess Reborn is a superhero story. And even better? Female superheroes. We don’t get to see much of them as their male counterparts, do we? So this immediately scored brownie points for that. 

It’s a very slim novel and considering that it’s a graphic novel, a quick one, too. 

Seventh grader Lari has always suspected there’s something strange about her mother, who has maintained a discreetness about her past ever since she can remember. What Lari doesn’t realise is that there are bigger secrets and conspiracies at work than she can imagine. And it all builds up to a pulse-racing climax. 

I cannot elaborate much for fear of giving anything crucial away. And there’s a lot of that – crucial details. 

Princess Reborn: Chapter 1 is filled with action, suspense and a lot of excitement from start to finish. It is very well illustrated and structured – which means that I didn’t have trouble following the conversation bubbles which I sometimes have. I think the illustrations capture the action sequences particularly well. 

The only thing that frustrated me is the ending. It ends on such a cliffhanger. And I’m not a fan of the big cliffhangers. They bug me to no end. I guess the fact that this is just ‘Chapter 1’ implies there’s a long adventure to come and I have to wait for Chapter 2 before I get the answers to at least some of the questions raised. 

Overall, this was fun to read. I let my 14 year old brother read it after me. He enjoyed it and called it ‘exciting’. So if you are a graphic novel nerd or know someone who is, here’s a new recommendation to consider picking up next time you have hours to kill 🙂 



Author website
Goodreads
Amazon <– there’s an excerpt available here, if you’re interested.

 

Do you read graphic novels?